The Impact of Shelter-in-Place Many of the guidelines provided for employers (outlined above) are not immediately relevant given widespread Shelter-in-Place and Lockdown orders from authorities. However, these guidelines are still critical for the following reasons: • Essential Employers: Employers performing essential functions that are still operating in full capacity and need to address employee safety in the workplace on an ongoing basis. • Returning to Work: Upon COVID-19 subsiding and employees returning to the workplace, employers will need to remain vigilant to do their part in ensuring the non- resurgence of the virus in the future. Upon Returning to Work After an employee has been ill and is returning to work, an employer may require the employee to provide a doctor’s note certifying fitness to return to work. As a practical matter, the EEOC acknowledges that doctors and other healthcare providers may be too busy to provide fitness-for-duty documentation. Therefore, new approaches may be necessary, such as reliance on local clinics to provide a form, stamp or an email to verify information. Importantly, employers should enforce procedures consistently (for example, whether a doctor’s note is required to return to work or what form it might take). In the absence of such consistency, employers run the risk of a discrimination claim. Hiring During COVID-19 There are a plethora of guidelines and resources available relative to hiring and employment decisions relative to COVID-19. These are outside the purview of this document. Some Leeway for Reasonable Accommodation The rapid spread of COVID-19 has disrupted normal work routines and may have resulted in unexpected or increased requests for reasonable accommodation. Although employers and employees should address these requests as soon as possible, the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic may result in a delay in discussing requests and in providing accommodation where warranted. Employers and employees are encouraged to use interim solutions to enable employees to keep working as much as possible.
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